Newsletter 64 – Spring 2004

Online archive copy of Newsletter 64 which was a printed newsletter:

 

OUTGOING PRESIDENT’S Letter

This will be my last president’s letter as I will not be able to stand again (literally) for another year. I have to have another total knee replacement later this year and I know from past experience that the rehabilitation will take a while and that the morphine will not do my brain any good. However eventually I will be able to walk and go up and down stairs, so that will be good.

It’s been a fulfilling experience being president of the guild and all the executive committee and Margaret have been terrific to work with.

Being a volunteer on a committee is a mixture of altruism and hard work and in this case, there have been some great laughs too, (mainly thanks to Pete and Walter).

I hope I am leaving the presidency of the guild in fairly good shape. I wish I could say the same about the production industry. It’s frustrating to feel so powerless to do anything about the situation. Production in every sector is at its lowest in twenty-five years and I fear that the effects of the FTA will start biting soon. As editors we are at the end of the food chain. We rarely initiate projects or make policy decisions. We do write letters and sign petitions but right now it’s hard to feel optimistic about the future of the industry. I hope I am wrong.

Signing off – Sara B

 

Letter FROM THE NEW PRESIDENT

First off I would like to start by congratulating Philippa Rowlands on her appointment as Vice President and Evelyn Cronk as Chair of the Victorian committee. I would also like to acknowledge the contribution and efforts of our previous President, Sara Bennett and Vice President, Michael Webb. I thoroughly enjoyed working under their leadership this past year and they have left a great platform for us to build on.

2005 is shaping as one of the most critical years Australia’s film industry has ever faced. Never before has the battle been fought along so many lines. The 5 pillars that for years have held our industry aloft are all starting to crumble.

Documentaries, Television Drama, News and Current Affairs, Advertising and Feature Films are all suffering. We know the figures, we know there are less than 10 features being made this year. Down from an average of 32. We know what deregulation has done to the advertising industry, where crews would go between films, to earn an income.

Since deregulation it has been estimated that up to 90% of advertising volume has disappeared. There is now up to 85% unemployment across the board.
Yet still we are being asked to open up our market to the world.
What market?

Ok enough of the doom and gloom. It’s time to get clever. One of the major growth industries of the 21st century is content. More and more content. Images and stories and games and interactive shows to excite and stimulate.

It is up to all of us to start working out how we can be a part of this new world of excitement. Hell we can tell stories. We can shape the work of the brave and adventurous.

There is no way that an Australian Government of any persuasion wants to see this wonderful industry collapse.

I bet they don’t even know how close it is. I’m betting they will be looking for us to provide a sensible, viable solution.

Like making good products that people want to see. Finding an audience. Don’t keep crying out for cultural recognition. Nobody’s watching.

Let's start developing our own models. Stimulate the private sector.
Make it attractive to investors. I’m quite sure the funding bodies are listening. So lets give them something to act on.

We need everyone in on this effort.
All MEMBERS. MORE MEMBERS.
Time to really get creative.
To be continued...

Peter Whitmore ASE
President
Australian Screen Editors Guild

 

2004 ASE accreditation night
The ASE honoured some of its finest editors at the third annual accreditation night on July 17 this year. Walter McIntosh reports.

In her keynote speech given at this year’s ASE Accreditation Night, film critic Margaret Pomeranz talked about her first visit to a suite of editing rooms – “I’d always been just a consumer, I’d just sat there and accepted everything that was presented to me on the screen without ever thinking about how it was created. I always thought something mysterious was happening in those rooms, with those funny looking stands, with those calico bags hanging down and strips of film dangling......and I wanted in on the secret.”
As screen editors, members of our guild share something of the objectives of magicians. We want to create the illusion of a narrative (whether fiction or non- fiction) unfolding infront of the viewer without drawing attention to the “secret” process that has gone on “behind the scenes” to make it happen. As Margaret Pomeranz said, “The work of an editor is secretive and you are only aware of it when things don’t fit together and you get a visual or narrative jarring. And, in effect, that’s your aim I suppose, to create a seamless artistic experience where narrative and meaning just flow.”

On Saturday 17 July this year the
Australian Screen Editors held their third annual accreditation ceremony, the one night of the year when the editing “illusionists” of the Australian film and
television industry have the opportunity
to come out of those mysterious rooms and publicly celebrate the art and craft of the post-production.
The key component of the event is the awarding of the letters “ASE” to a select group of editors whose creative work and contributions to the industry over many years is publicly recognized by the guild. This year ten highly regarded editors
received the honour: Mark Atkin, Dany Cooper, Alexandre de Franceschi, Nicholas Holmes, Wayne Hyett, Andrea Lang, Kim Moodie, Melanie Sandford, Fiona Strain and Frans Vandenburg.

Left to right: Wayne Hyett ASE, Fiona Strain ASE, Kim Moodie ASE, Alexandre de Franceschi ASE,
Andrea Lang ASE, Andrew Plain (accepted for Dany Cooper ASE), Hans Pomeranz OAM (Lifetime Membership),
Margaret Pomeranz (keynote speaker), Frans Vandenburg ASE, Nicholas Holmes ASE, Melanie Sandford ASE and Mark Atkin ASE.

In the elegant but intimate environment of Sydney’s The Basement jazz club the fifty or so guild members in attendance watched as each of the 2004 accreditees were presented with their certificate of accreditation by special guest Margaret Pomeranz and President of the Guild, Sara Bennett. An audio- visual presentation accompanied the presentation, which featured voice over memories from the accreditees’ friends and colleagues as well as clips from their respective work – encompassing a wide range of features, television drama and documentary, and commercials.

Keynote speaker Margaret Pomeranz was also called upon by the guild that present the special award of Honorary Life Membership to Hans Pomeranz OAM.
In 1972, Hans began Spectrum Films, which has been for over 3 decades, one of the leading post-production houses in Australia. Throughout this time Hans has given much to the film industry community, especially to emerging filmmakers. Following his award, Hans gave a moving speech, thanking Margaret (his former partner), and many of the friends and colleagues who have supported him in his forty years in the industry.
Margaret Pomeranz, in her keynote speech, expressed the desire to thank “all the Australian editors who have nourished my love of Australian films over the years.” This was a sentiment echoed by many at The Basement on the accreditation night. Those who were there had the chance to publicly recognize the years of work of the ten accreditees and Hans Pomeranz OAM, and those awarded were able to publicly thank the many colleagues, friends and family who had helped them on their way. It was also a chance for the Australian Screen Editors to celebrate our love of editing and the “magic” of an art that tends to remain mysterious to those who have not inhabited the cutting room.
Peter Whitmore ASE played the dapper host for the evening

Thanks are due to our sponsors – Quantel, Sony, Atlab, Mike Reed Post Production, Digistore, Digital Pictures, FACB, Film Australia, Focal Press, Frameworks, Fuel, Karl Marx Productions, Spectrum Films, and Winning Post Productions. Thanks are also due to the staff of The Basement, the ASE organizing committee (especially Emma McCleave and Chris Mill who organized the audio-visual elements for the evening), Margaret Pomeranz, Hans Pomeranz, and the accreditees themselves – whose work inspires us to celebrate our art on such an occasion . WM

 

Greetings to the Victorian membership.
I write to you as the out-going Chairman of the Victorian committee. As part
of the Vic AGM held on September 15th, a new committee was elected of which I will remain as a member. I’m pleased to announce we have a healthy number to take us forward in 2004/05. Congratulations to Evelyn for her appointment as the new Chair and a warm welcome to Mark Atkin ASE for coming on board. Thanks to Andrew Brinsmead who announced he will not continue as a committee member this year.

The new committee personnel are:
Evelyn Cronk – Chair
Trevor Holcomb – Secretary
Mark Atkin ASE
John Leonard
Sara Edwards
Roberta Horslie ASE
Jill Holt
Shaun Smith

We’ve had two events since I last spoke to you. On June 15th we hosted a Special Screening of the feature film ’Strange Bedfellows’ starring Paul Hogan and Michael Caton. Lemac was the venue on a cold wintry night as we nestled into the theatrette to watch a sparkling 35mm print. Key crew members were on hand for a discussion following the screening.

Our thanks to Dean Murphy (writer/ director), Stewart Faichney (writer) and Peter Carrodus ASE (editor). Special Thanks to John Bowring for donating his time and facilities to the event.

On August 18th, we gathered at MRPPP facility in Thistlethwaite St, Sth Melbourne for a luxurious nite in his cosy theatrette replete with comfy couches and a tasty smorgasboard for a screening of ’Poker Kings’, edited by Cindy Clarkson. Aired on SBS in July this year, the doco about “professional” poker players comprised about 170 hours of footage and took over 12 months to complete the edit.

A highlight of the night occurred when the screening finished and the screen retracted to reveal a classic Melbourne skyline vista. This became the backdrop to Cindy’s presentation. Magnificent! The punters were impressed (you guys, if you were lucky enough to be there) and a vibrant discussion ensued. MRPPP’s is earmarked for future ASE occasions. Thanks to Mike Reed ASE and Tim Isaacson for donating their time and facility.
I’d like to offer a brief summary of matters discussed at the VIC AGM.

Accreditation: A regular topic at meetings. If you’ve tuned into the website forums you’d have noticed some hot debate re the application and assessment process. I won’t comment specifically on the issues here as this is not the appropriate format for such lengthy debate.

Newsletter: Despite the website now being responsible for the dissemination and exchange of information, feedback from the members indicates their strong support for the continuation of this traditional hard copy format. There’s been discussion about frequency (currently quarterly) and the need for more articles from the membership at large, no matter what the scale. All areas of editing, from corporate to features, are relevant to the readership. Submissions always welcome.

ASE Website: Now a dynamic entity with regular revamps and modifications as well as healthy debates and discussions.

Past Year Events: A quick summary of events over the last 12 months or so.
In reverse order: Poker Kings, Strange
Bedfellows, One Perfect Day, 2003 Xmas Party, Pre-Employment Post-Production Checklist, Trojan Warrior, SOHO Edit
Night.

Other Achievements:
Edit search Publicity. Information sent to producers highlighting this ASE facility
Attachment/mentorship scheme. Now a link on the website.
Victorian Film & Television Working Party. An amalgam of industry bods who meet to discuss, in particular, the status of the “Central City” or better known as the “Docklands” Film Studios.

Another recent issue was the AUST/US Free Trade Agreement and the ramifications for the Australian Film Industry. The VFTWP lobbied government extensively over the past year.

The new committee will meet next week where we’ll chart a course for the remainder of the year. A priority is to plan future events for the membership. A reminder that members are welcome to attend our regular meetings, usually held on the last Wed of each month.

For communications, Email to vicoffice@screeneditors.com

To finish off, I’d like to thank the Vic committee for the efforts over the past year, in particular, John Leonard for continuing to produce those glossy event flyers and to our administrator, Beth Akister for her work in the day-to-day running of the Victorian Branch. I’m happy to have served the Vic membership in my capacity as Chairman. Look forward to seeing you at future events.

Yours sincerely,
Shaun Smith
Chairman, ASE VIC committee

 

WA notes
In recent months, there has been
exciting news from the West, where a new chapter of the ASE is forming. Jude Cotter reports.
Hello from the West, where men are men and umm... Ok. That’s never going to go anywhere good.

As the semi-almost-official voice of the fledgling ASE chapter in WA it gives me great pleasure to report that we now have a (very) small group of people who turn up when called upon in order to;
* drink coffee
* bitch about the industry
* rat out local producers who don’t pay/
don’t pay on time, and
* console each other about smug little film school kids who try to put you down at parties for working in [sell-out fascist no idea about real art} television.

It’s pretty good.

In recent months we have also been on a few outings together - one to see Rachel Walls’ confronting Sex Worker Documentary (squirm factor 5!), one to Bill’s Russo’s informative Editing Masterclass (way to rescue a scene, Bill!) and .. mmm no, all the others were more coffee and bitching.

However - if you are in Perth, or thinking of being in Perth around the middle of October you could join us at Apple Digilife at Mount Hawthorn where I will be giving a free Hitchhikers Guide to Final Cut Pro (Don’t Panic!). I’m also hoping that one of the other members will reciprocate with a Hitchikers Guide to any of the systems that they use in the near future.

Being in the most isolated city in the world makes us also a very net-savvy population, which basically means that our main contact point is on the website. If you would like to contact any of us – for information,assistance, or just an invitation to the coffee and bitching, please visit the ASE website and look us up.[www.screeneditors.com]

Apart from that there really is very little to report. So far.

cheers, Jude

 

QUANTEL PREVIEWS
’Core Values’ software at IBCMassive ergonomics boost for iQ and eQ. IBC 2004, Amsterdam, 10 September 2004: At IBC 2004 Quantel is showing the forthcoming ’Core Values’ software release for iQ and eQ.

Quantel’s consistent success over the years has been built on the bedrock of ergonomics – making the machines a natural extension of the user’s mind. This heritage has been carried through in eQ and iQ with the new-generation timeline editing interface that has received such a phenomenal reaction from users.
The ’Core Values’ software release takes this even further, adding yet more of what makes Quantel machines special, improving operational speed, ease of use and flexibility – the things that get the job done even faster and better.

Every aspect of system ergonomics has been put under the microscope, from the position of menu boxes at one end of the scale to library/source/record edit modes at the other. The result is that the best gets even better.

“Successful post production systems are about workflow and user comfort,” says Quantel Marketing Manager, Post and DI, Steve Owen. “The Core Values release takes the existing eQ and iQ toolset and really makes it fly.”

“The Core Values release makes a massive difference,” says Damon Hawkins, Chief Editor and leading test pilot for new software at Quantel, “Good editing is all about rhythm – Core Values really rocks!”
The Core Values upgrade will be released following IBC and is free to all existing eQ and iQ users.

About Quantel: Quantel is dedicated to creating new tools for the new digital age, covering everything from terrestrial and satellite television to broadband internet, DVD and d- cinema. Quantel systems combine industry-leading performance with total scalability in both hardware and software across post production, graphics, digital intermediate, news and sports production for multiple resolution, team-working environments.

 

FINGERS crossed!

This year’s AFI Awards Nominations
Announcement contains several ASE members, and not just for editing! In case you haven’t had a moment to visit the AFI website or other industry wealth of information, the guild members nominated are as follows:

Ken Sallows ASE - Tom White -
Feature Film Nomination, Complete Post AFI Award for Best Editing

Denise Haratzis ASE - So Close to Home - Non-Feature Nomination, AFI Award for Best Editing in a Non-Feature Film

Jane StVincent Welch - The Men Who Would Conquer China - Non-Feature Nomination, AFI Award for Best Editing in a Non-Feature Film

Denise Haslem ASE - Lonely Boy
Richard- Non-Feature Nomination,
Film Australia AFI Award for Best
Documentary (Denise shares this nomination with Rose Hesp)

The 2004 AFI Awards will be held on
October 29, at Melbourne’s Regent
Theatre. We wish you all the best of luck with your nominations, and certainly hope to see some ASE members upstaging the rest of the hoi-poloi on the red carpet!
RW

 

2004 ASE annual general meeting
Well, the AGM was a great opportunity for those present to catch up, get involved in their guild, and of course, partake of the forum planned for after the business end of things were settled.

The atmosphere at the Paddington RSL was laid back, and we all seemed to be drinking lemon, lime and bitters....great minds think alike?? Sydney-siders were joined by Shaun Smith, outgoing Chairperson for the VIC ASE. It was great to have him with us for the day. Shaun joined in the official business by reporting on the recent VIC AGM, which was held a few days earlier.

Of course, there was also the President’s report, the financial report, and the passing of the baton from old to new office bearers and executive committee members. Both Sara Bennett and Michael Webb decided to step down from their offices of President and Vice President respectively, and were replaced by Peter Whitmore ASE and Phillipa Rowlands, also respectively.

Other elected members are Lindi Harrison as Treasurer, Emma Hay as Secretary, and Walter McIntosh, Greg Miller, Christopher Mill, Rachel Walls and Emma
McCleave as the Executive Committee.

We then got down to serious business.

The by-law changes, which aimed to fine tune the procedure of Accreditation and make some of the nebulous details more explicit were voted on and approved. The matter of the Accreditation process in general was discussed and it was suggested that the matter was so important and in depth that it should be dealt with in a separate forum.

Then the floor was opened for general discussion. Eager to get into the ’State of the Industry’ forum, the gathering gave an early ad hoc kickoff to the event by launching into a very animated discussion on the need for reskilling within the industry. It was obvious that the visual effects side of post production is overlapping the editors’ role, and we were lucky to have Bill Russo ASE the Head of Editing at AFTRS there to give us all a good sense of perspective on the topic.

Our guest panelists for the discussion were Julia Overton, AFC Project Manager (Sydney); and Susan MacKinnon, FFC Investment Manager (documentary). They added a lively spark of ’finger on the pulse’ understanding of the current dilemma within the film and television landscape.

Our craft exists in an industry where there is an 80% unemployment rate across the board. Apart from there being very few projects to work on, and not a great many full-time roles in post houses (many of which are doing it tough too) and of course broadcasters, it seems that there is a growing tendency to work leaner, meaner and cheaper. Our panelists debated over the often mad scramble for work, funding, and we all got a better understanding of the standards and procedures involved in the bodies that fund, and therefore contribute to regulating the health of, our industry.

However, those present, some of whom had been editing long enough that at one time approaching an AVID seemed a bit like finding that obelisk out of 2001 A Space Odyssey in one’s edit suite, were finding it difficult to get work not only because of these adverse conditions; but also because they did not have compositing skills; or other skills not traditionally considered as those of an editor. So is our profession changing? The answer is yes, it most certainly is. And it’s changing much faster than anyone can truly gauge.

The editors that will survive
are the ones who will adapt, retrain, and diversify into visual effects areas. There’s no denying this is essential, but there seems to be a lack of training options for those of us who don’t have too much time on our hands. Part time and evening courses specifically targeting these technically complex and intense needs don’t seem to be very plentiful. And the level of skill and intensity of training required to then go out into the field and perform cannot be achieved in a couple of days. It was pretty serious food for thought.

We were thoughtful and reflective, and there was a great sense of needing to find a way to strengthen our editing community through the collective skills of our guild. As much as the market is changing, I think that the Guild will adapt to meet this more dynamic, hi- tech post production future.

The AGM and the forum that followed gave us all the feeling that we were walking into unchartered territories. But as every editor is an explorer of ideas, I am sure we will all manage to rise to the occasion, and see this as an opportunity to find new ways of telling great stories. RW

 

ASE SYDNEY EVENT “meet the assistants”
The slightly grungy, pleasantly atmospheric environment of the Sydney’s Surry Hills Community Labour Club was the location for the ASE “Meet The Assistants” event held in the early evening of Saturday September 17th. The purpose of the event was to enable younger, less experienced members of the Guild hear more about the role of the Assistant Editor from a panel of guild members who have substantial assisting experience. On the panel was Jason Ballantine, Christian Gazal, Alicia Gleeson,
Basia Ozerski, Milena Romanin, Bridgette Faye Goldsmith and Walter McIntosh. Each panel member spoke briefly, mentioning such things as highlights of their assisting career, how they got their “foot in the door” in the industry, how they have kept working, and whether they have been trying to make the transition from Assistant Editor to Editor.

It was evident that each panel member enjoys the process of craft and creativity that assisting involves, but that the uncertainties of the freelance world have led them to experience ups and downs in their developing careers. Their career paths appeared to be very individual. Training was often picked up by bluffing their way into the first job and then learning quickly.

With a scarcity of formal training schemes for Assistants and budgets on Australian productions being tight, the life of an Assistant Editor seems to require patience, the stamina to work long hours, and loyalty to the Editor. Especially with an overall slow- down in production at the moment, it may not be possible for an Assistant to find work in their chosen field all the time, in which case a certain adaptability is required. Most experienced assistants forge working relationships with Editors over time, but can also cut smaller productions themselves, or do interactive media or graphic design, make coffees, or even work in pubs when work is scarce.

The important thing is not to feel down at these times – if the phone doesn’t ring, don’t take it personally – it is not you who is at fault. And the next job is probably just around the corner.

It was encouraging for both the panel members and the forty or so interested audience members to be able to get together and discuss some of their work stories and job experiences. Although the formal part of the panel was quite short, people stayed on, drinks continued and advice was shared for several hours afterward. Many thanks for making the event the success that it was go to all those who came along. Thanks especially to the panel members, and Emma Hay and Alicia Gleeson for doing the organising, and also Jeff McDonald at Magnet Post for sponsoring the evening.
WM

 

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IN CASE you asked by Dominic Case

Q: I don’t get this stuff about a negative
when you shoot on film. Why don’t we just get an ordinary image like we do on video? And if you get proper positive images when you make copies (is that what you call printing?), why don’t you get that in the camera? Topsy Turvy

Every so often someone asks something like this and I stop breathing. You mean you don’t know? Aren’t we all born with a basic understanding of film, and the photographic process? Well, I guess not.

People weren’t actually born with it in the nineteenth century either, which is why they had to invent it, nor will it be commonplace in the 21st century, now that we have digital systems that are beyond all human comprehension. I guess the rest of us were just born lucky.
Film is a bit like your skin in the summer.

Exposed to light, it turns darker; the more light, the darker it gets. When developed, film gets much darker still. So that’s a negative image: the sky looks black, the shadows in the corner look white. To make colour film work, the colours have to be “negative” as well: so blue light from the sky or sea actually produces yellow dye in the camera original film.

It’s not hard (well it is hard, but not that hard) to complicate the chemistry enough to turn the image back the right way round again before the film ever comes out of the processor. We call it “reversal’ processing, just to be confusing.

Actually you get a normal image, not a negative one or a reversed one or anything. Basically, the reversal process dissolves away the first (negative) image and then brings up all the dyes that are left over unused. It’s a bit like shooting a film on short ends: the less the first production uses, the more you have left over to make your own epic.
Reversal gives you a recognisable image right away. Great once, for Grandpa’s holiday slides or for “useless if delayed” news film. But it was never easy to make duplicate copies that were a perfect match for the original. Copying works best with an unrealistically low contrast camera original. So the logic goes this way: if you need copies (and we hope you do!), then you must settle for the first generation being a negative.

The print (yes, the next generation) bumps up the contrast, and because it uses the simple version of processing, it is also a negative: but it’s a negative of a negative, and that, you will agree (if you sat up straight in maths classes at school), is a positive.

Q: So who said widescreen had to be 16x9 anyway? I mean, where did that number come from? “The fathead with a wide- screen”.

Television started with the standard
Academy film shape of 1.33:1 or 4x3. In the 1950s, filmmakers got cute, and went somewhere they thought the TV people couldn’t go. Wider pictures. All sorts and shapes, but all wider. Generally the widest was 2.39:1 (anamorphic).

Television engineers fought back. They spent a generation or more chopping the sides off films to make them fit, confidently expecting that cinemas and their annoying wide screens would eventually die out. But film refused to lie down.

Eventually, it became a case of “if you can’t beat’em, join’em”. Maybe the cinema people had got it right. Go wide. But how wide? How to cope with all those different ratios on one TV screen?

Treating it as an engineering problem, the engineers used mathematics to come up with an engineering solution. What’s midway between 4x3 and 2.39:1? Well, it turns out to be 1.77:1, or 16x9. Most people have noticed that it’s 4:3 x 4/3. Ever tried going the 4/3 factor another time? It comes to 64x27, or 2.37:1 – very close to the anamorphic ratio. The chosen standard, in theory, meant minimum cropping – on average – for all existing film ratios.

But forget cropping and padding (letter/ pillarboxing). Visit any pub or department store and look at the widescreen TV. Chances are they are showing 4x3 pictures, s t r e t c h e d. It’s a fabulous solution for everyone.

The manufacturers get to sell new, widescreen TV sets (never mind the digital or HD stuff, too complicated, and the punters can’t tell the difference – but plasma wide screen! You don’t even need to turn the set on to see it’s different.) Film suppliers sell super 16 on the basis that it fits the new TV ratio. So they’re happy. Broadcasters can do as they please: so they’re happy.

The punters? They just set the picture on stretch, to fill the screen. They paid for a wide screen and they want to use it all! Wide people? Fat people? Well, we can all eat a little more in front of the TV and still be slimmer than our heroes.

Everyone’s happy.

DC

 

VALE LES MCKENZIE

Les was the location recordist on the SKIPPY television series and I met him when I became the assistant to the Supervising Editor, Don Saunders, on the last 13 episodes – eps 78 to 91, I think.

In those days Les was one of the many slightly intimidating strangers who shot the film and I had almost nothing to do with ’them’.

Later we all moved on to another TV series where Les was sound supervisor and I became one of the ’dubbing editors’. In those days the sound editor did everything except the music (atmos, spot fx, post sync dial & fx, splitting the dials) and we did an episode a week every week including attending the one-day sound mix. And don’t forget we were cutting on film and splicing the mag with sticky tape!

This was in the late sixties and I remember Les as being one of my mentors. He was very generous in sharing his knowledge and I learned a huge amount thanks to him.

What we achieved then was pretty rudimentary compared to today’s standards but what I remember about Les was his unshakeable enthusiasm and confidence. Nothing was impossible!

When our paths crossed again many years later he had set up Colorfilm’s sound mixing department in Camperdown with what looked to be the world’s longest mixing console. He had bought it second hand from the US and set up Sydney’s biggest and best sound post production department in the 1980s.

I last saw Les in Centennial Park at the Skippy 30th anniversary picnic in the mid nineties and he had flown in from Hong Kong. Irrepressible Les! Wouldn’t want to miss a good party.

SB

 

A QUESTION OF balanceThe ASE Committee was recently pleased to have had the opportunity to represent our profession when approached for comment by the Film Finance Corporation on a particular employment issue.

A 26 part drama series was to be produced by an independent production house, funded by the FFC with a pre-sale to the ABC. Two full-time ABC staff editors had been nominated to work on the project. This arrangement, however, created a predicament as the FFC Terms of Trade in their Investment Guidelines clearly state:

10.2 Key Creatives - Television
The FFC expects key creatives (producer, writer, director, director of photography, editor) to be sourced from the freelance market and not from the staff of the broadcaster offering the presale.

The FFC invited the ASE to express an opinion on the possibility of this
arrangement proceeding. Given that
such a deal would effectively remove the availability of two highly sought-after roles from the freelance sector, the ASE position was that this deal would not be in the interests of our membership, nor the industry as a whole, particularly in such an austere production climate.

The ASE Committee believes that the funding model pursued by the FFC since its inception is designed to nourish and develop the creative range that is inherent in a healthy and robust freelance sector. The majority of our members work as freelancers and as a craft guild we exist to support professional practices amongst our membership.

Consequently, we are pleased to report that two freelance editors have since been contracted to work on the series. While we understand that this is a disappointing outcome for the full-time ABC editors who had been earmarked for the project, the Committee considered it ethically impossible for the ASE to sanction any decision made in contravention of FFC Guidelines. Indeed, we would regard a bending of such rules as ultimately counterproductive and likely to set a dangerous precedent.

This consultation by the FFC represents an important recognition of the ASE as an industry body. We appreciate having had this opportunity and hope to continue to represent our colleagues on important policy matters.

Above all, the ASE wishes to pitch in and do our part in the struggle
to maintain a buoyant and viable industry for us all.

Philippa Rowlands
Michael Webb

 

the ASE MENTOR scheme
The ASE mentor Scheme got under way in March this year and is steadily growing. This scheme is designed to be simple to manage, easy for the mentors to fulfil their obligations and effective for the ’mentees’. Even in these difficult times, experienced editors are being very generous and volunteering their time in all fields of specialisation. I have requested that all applicants have some professional experience, as an assistant or junior editor and that they supply a CV and give an idea of what their career aspirations are. Many people are quite specific in their requests which is fine because it helps me match them up with an appropriate Mentor.

We have currently 8 mentorships
underway. Most are in their early stages with one or two meetings having been achieved but the response has been extremely positive from both mentors and mentees.

Three meetings within 12 months is the least that is expected for completion of a Mentorship. It is made clear that attachments, assistant work, jobs etc are not to be expected but can of course be offered as the discretion of the Mentor. Two mentorships have successfully combined paid Assistant work with mentoring, some Mentors are giving feedback on their mentees work and sometimes it’s been the other way around!

“I think the mentoring will be mutually beneficial - it’s good to discuss in some detail what editing’s all about and to realise how much one takes for granted at this stage of a fairly well-established career.” Paul Cantwell ASE Mentor for Amanda Barton
“I am having a great time on the doco with Ray. I am so excited and inspired about it.
The content is great [the producers] have been awesome - letting me sit in on meetings and even asking me what I think! Today I sat in on their meeting with the EP. Ray is a legend and very generous”.Michelle Peters re her mentorship with Ray Thomas ASE

“....Really good, he’s also encouraged me to call around and try and get work as an assistant with people I thought would never be interested in my level of career. It seems that the problem is not other Editors having confidence in you, its the producers. I knew the producers part, just
not the Editor bit.” Branden Fillmore re his mentorship with Ken Sallows ASE

"It's great to have the official mentor-ship scheme, which provides a context for future meetings. It's only recently that I have realised what a great resource ASE provides, mostly due to the generosity of Editors from all walks of life, to share advice and knowledge among the post community.” Claire Fletcher re her mentorship with Karen Johnson

“I have had one meeting with Nick at this stage, which seemed to go well. We talked quite generally about editing, collaboration with Directors, the role of the Assistant and about some of his experiences working in the industry. Nick was extremely helpful and generous in his advice.” Adam Smith on his first meeting with Nick Beauman ASE

And Chris Mill writes of his first meeting with his mentor Henry Dangar ASE
My name is Christopher Mill and I’m a current ASE member completing an MA in Drama Editing at AFTRS. When I first heard about the ASE mentor scheme I thought it would be a great way to get contacts in the industry. However since meeting my mentor, Henry Dangar ASE, I’ve found it to be more about talking about the problems you encounter and the choices you have to make when you’re an editor. I rang up Henry as soon as I found out that he was willing to be my mentor. Due to both of us being busy at the time we didn’t meet up until a month after that initial call. We finally met up when I went over to Henry’s place and had a cup of coffee and a few biscuits.

The first meeting was really just an introduction for both of us and to see where we wanted this mentorship thing to go. We decided, after telling our brief personal histories to each other, that we would meet up again in a month to view a first cut of my major project for the year. I came over to Henry’s house a month later and we viewed my first cut on VHS. We then sat down and went through the cut scene by scene with Henry giving me his thoughts on the film and also asking me questions to why I had cut certain things a certain way. It was invaluable experience that you can only receive from someone like Henry. I took on board, and tried to apply, what Henry had told me about my cut and hopefully he will be pleased with the final lock-off version... which I’ll show to him at out next meeting.

I intend to continue co-ordinating this scheme in 2005, I think it has already proved to be successful with our current mentorships and will become more so in the future.
If there are any members reading this who would like to apply for a mentor please e-mail your details to
Margaret Slarke nswoffice@screeneditors.com.
Please send:
a) a copy of your CV - PDF, Word document, RTF.
b) a few lines about what you are doing now,
c) why you feel a mentor would be beneficial to you
d) some of your goals and aspirations for the future
These details will be passed to me for processing, I will be overseas until the beginning of November so please be patient regarding a response!

Emma Hay ASE
ASE Mentor Scheme Co-ordinator

 

audio LAYOUT
You think audio’s not your job?? Just a piccy editor?? Bullpuckeys. Those days of demarcation are over, baby. So consider the method you have in place regarding track assignment and layout. Do you put all your NATSOT (native/natural sound on tape) on a single pair of audio tracks, or do you checkerboard them?? Do you allow for the idea of layering SOTs, putting in FX, etc.? Do you wonder what the heck I’m raving about?? Probably. I wonder too, from time to time. But not when it comes to audio!! Track layout is important, as it not only helps you to create a good strong supporting element of your visual edit, but also because it makes things go faster in audio sweetening. If everything makes total sense when you hand them the OMFs, the tape, the AIFFs - or whatever....things will go much more smoothly.

Depending on the budget and personal working choices of the varied elements in any job, you’ll be outputting and exporting goodness-knows-what to goodness-knows-who. So it’s best to make your part of the job indestructible, foolproof, idiotproof, etc. Having an audio ’plan of attack’ for your non-linear system can be a real bonus, and once you get used to your preferred layout, you’ll be able to very easily and rapidly navigate your work, and other post production line creatives that have to work with and on your edit will be able to see the logic in place and navigate it too.

Now, some systems cater more for this conceptually than others; such as the now ’retired’ discreet edit*, which allows for audio track grouping and colour coding, etc. But so long as your organisation skills are solid, it doesn’t matter what you are running. The important thing is to devise a method that you understand and can carry out, which is easy for other editors and professionals to interpret - and then of course, to not deviate from this layout in your work.

As a short-form TVC trained editor, I’m used to creating the bulk of my audio layout and fx myself. So I personally devote the first three stereo pairs of audio tracks to SOT. I generally checkerboard the first two, and utilise the third pair for audio with the same recording environment as the on screen sound, but being used out of it’s original sync/ context, as an audio effect, or for general overrun. This happens all the time, and usually is the biggest criminal offence in the edit suite - the stolen SOTs...people shove these in anywhere they can find a space; in between music stings, etc.

It can become quite confusing and messy to work with if you’ve been handed the task of finishing or onlining someone else’s work (It’s even worse if these ill placed sounds are either applause or forced laughter from a somewhat comatose studio audience). Basically, if you don’t have enough tracks, make another pair! Most systems have unlimited audio tracks, or at least more than you could reasonably use.

The idea that one should unreasonably try to cram the whole kit and caboodle onto a few measly tracks is just foolish. Ensuring that these sounds live together in happy structured stereo pairs within your timeline means that you will have greater control regarding overlap/handles, placement, ease of visibility, navigation and manipulation. And it more importantly makes it easier and faster for your sound engineer to mix and process.

I usually allow a few pairs of tracks for music, a pair for VO when required, and if FX are to be added in the suite, a pair or two for this as well - just depending on the edit. These are often added later, but it depends on the desires of the people involved in your project. Regarding music/sound editing in general - I tend to perform my complex audio cuts on a separate timeline and bring in the finished product into the edit in a checkerboarded fashion, so that when these tracks hit audio sweetening it’s easier for the soundo to see what I’m doing and trying
to achieve. Most piccy cutting systems do not have the grunt or the design to do a damn good job of cutting audio, as subframe editing is often required. So by setting it up in a checkerboard fashion the soundos can get a very clear picture of what you are aiming for, and tidy up the
work if needed.

As for the process of audio sweetening; (which sounds like there ought to be a couple of gnomes in a room with a bag of sugar, but isn’t) I try to have a very strong and proactive relationship with my sound engineers whenever possible. No, I do not take them out to dinner and buy them flowers. But it is important to note that whilst most directors spend time building a strong relationship with their editors, they can turn around and expect audio sweetening to happen without their and your involvement or with minimal involvement.

Depending on the budget of your project, and the type of project it is, you may be only sending audio to sweetening for a quick mix. Some people use an engineer’s skills and allow for them to contribute in a strong creative way to the overall sound design, but in a hurry- up TV environment or a low-budget environment this usually is not quite the case. The bulk of the work is done in the edit suite, and the ’too damn hard’ stuff is left for sweetening. So if you are working in hurry-up-land it’s best to be methodical about track layout, and aware of what your audio engineer is expecting to receive.

So have a chat with the engineer, ask them what file type they’d like - not everyone wants OMFs, I’ve worked with many people who have other systems in place - some prefer AIFFs, digitising off tape even - depends on where you are and what you’re doing. So make sure you get the skinny on what you need to deliver. Question it, if you like, but take into account all of the information you are given as feedback.

Think about it very carefully and make suggestions if you think there’s a better way of doing things, but never push a creative too far. Remember your diplomacy when you’re being a nerd. And if you don’t understand something, ASK - it is far more frustrating and terrifying for your sound engineer to think you don’t understand their end of the job than it is for them to enlighten you. I only mention this because of the number of foul stories my soundos lay on me regarding my comrades in the white glove glee club. Apparently a lot of us don’t know too much about sweetening.
So.... it’s time to go to the room with the gnomes and the sugar. I don’t know about you, but as an editor, I ALWAYS attend sweetening sessions. If it’s TV stuff, and we’re working in the same building, I still go down and sit with the engineer until they tell me to go away.

All creatives hit a point where they know what they’re doing, and want to work unsupervised. But it pays to be there to answer some questions about what’s been received. Or to help solve any problems with file transers, etc. Remember that although you are in audio-land, it’s your edit. You’ve got to take it seriously. I’ve seen some pretty simple things screwed up - but I’ve been there to notice the problem and fix it. I am sure that many people think that this sort of level of supervision is the Director’s job....but it’s your job too, and you should take pride in it. The important thing is to set your standards, preferably fairly high standards, and stick to them.

That’s it, my tea’s getting cold. I’ll probably whinge at you in the future about my other peeves, of which there are many. Right now I need to warm my teapot and find some hippie food to consume before I run off to kickboxing. (You’d better hope I don’t catch you with sloppy audio layout....)
RW

 

NEWSLETTER ISSUE 64
Editors: Rachel Walls,
Walter McIntosh
Layout & Design: Sally Goodfellow
Art Force Ph: 02 9453 3057
Contributors: Sara Bennett, Dominic
Case, Jude Cotter, Walter McIntosh,
Philippa Rowlands, Shaun Smith,
Rachel Walls, Michael Webb and
Peter Whitmore ASE.

 

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